My approach to healing my gut is multi-pronged.
First part: elimination diet
Second part: focus on all gut healing remedies
Third part: test my gut to get a real picture of the bacterial landscape so that I may best ascertain my starting point and the impact I have with food. To this end, I’ve ordered the VIOME test and will share results as I have them.
There is a lot of beneficial crossover, but a few disparities between the two approaches. There are different foods I would allow/avoid for each approach but I have devised a plan which will allow for a successful elimination diet to happen alongside healing and then to give way to a focused approach to healing.
As for my elimination diet. I explained it here, but am going to add a little update and clarification around it below too.
path A: eliminate potential allergens to gain clarity around how foods I eat impact my wellbeing
Initially I was going to essentially eliminate ALL potential allergens at once and just rough it for only 3 weeks + time to fold items back into my diet. The other advantage to this was that some potential allergens (such as sugar) are important to remove while healing your gut even if you’re not doing an elimination diet. And, in a parallel path, I’m also over here trying to heal my gut.
However, when I sat down to look at my meal plans, I determined, based on the fact that I’m eating on set for work 3/4 of the time or on the go, I would have a slightly easier chance at dynamic meals and not being stuck with just eating lettuce all the time, if I allowed a few key elements now.
I am still removing sugar with two exceptions: log GI fruit such as berries and honey or natural sweeteners. I will still be on a strict low sugar diet and while not an official elimination, an approach much kinder and gentler on my gut health right now while still allowing me to quit the main concerns for me. To the original list, I’ve also added red meat and shellfish. I’m less concerned with either being an allergen but ideally I’d get a complete picture in this one effort so I made the list as long as I could manage while leaving enough for me to have some options to keep me going through 3 full weeks.
citrus fruits (as potential allergen)
I am not quitting coffee right now either. I am only allowing myself one cup per day, which is a significant reduction (down from 4). I will have water or green tea in it’s place.
What CAN I eat?
Well, a lot really. It’s just that I’m eliminating a lot of my go-to’s which means I have to be a little more thoughtful and proactive here is all.
I can eat:
eggs (big win here. should quit since I eat often but I decided to keep to get me through this bigger list of omissions and then after I’ve incorporated more back in, I’ll do a second 3-week window with no eggs at that time, as I would still like to gain clarity around this food’s impact on my body.).
wild caught fish
nightshades (was going to eliminate but on day 4 realized I’d been eating mushrooms which are a nightshade so skipping this category for now).
natural sweeteners (like honey) only in baking
most (low GI) fruit (no citrus)
raw (green) bananas only (before they turn to sugar and still have a low GI and high resistant starch content, good for my gut).
Healthy fats: Avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
many veggies (except nightshades)
quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth
Sprouted seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and more.
path B goal: heal gut
So the other approach to healing my gut, other than the elimination diet, meant to give me CLARITY around potential food allergies further perpetuating my gut problems, I’m also striving to HEAL my gut in a parallel path.
To that end, I’m striving to add:
phytonutrients and antioxidants
Beverages: Bone broth, teas, coconut milk, nut milk, water and kombucha.
(not while on my elimination diet, but:) Cultured dairy products: Kefir, yogurt, Greek yogurt and traditional buttermilk.
green bananas or other high resistant starches (many, such as legumes, off of my list during elimination diet.)
Since inflammation was a problem, I need to continue to watch my sugar intake as it causes inflammation and wreaks havoc on my immune system. I’ll be sure to be adding those healthy fruits and veggies but I will continue to keep my sugar intake restricted. I won’t be quitting sugar altogether as you can see, but that goal/objective was independent of my elimination diet goals and my gut-healing goals. So it’s not imperative for me to go to the limit on that right now. It’s better to allow myself a few exceptions to sugars to help me through the next 3-weeks and go from there.
I hope this provides more clarity around the approach I’m taking, goals, and pathways to healing my gut.